This week has provided a vivid picture of deliverance, redemption and resurrection. It is the sort of thing that happens and people need to think about for a while before the different images come together. Watching the event in real time was another one of those “Jetson Moments” (kinda like when I got my Kindle) where you say, “I can’t believe I live in a world where technology lets me do this!”
As miners were being pulled from San Jose mine in Chile last Wednesday, most were wearing these T-shirts and a CNN reporter Wes Little wondered why. He noticed a logo on the T-shirt’s left sleeve for the Jesus Film Project. He learned that they were provided by Campus Crusade for Christ International, a massive Orlando, Florida-based evangelical ministry. In the 1980s they produced a film called the Jesus Film Project that has been translated into over a thousand languages and that it has been seen in every country in the world.
Seventeen days into the mine accident, soon after the miners were discovered still alive, CCCI country director for Chile, Christian Maureira, started contacting public officials to see if they could send the miners a copy of the film. Maureira was able to reach a daughter and a brother of miner Jose Henriquez and through that contact, the group was able to send an MP3 audio version of the Jesus film and an MP3 audio version of the New Testament in Spanish to Henriquez down in the mine.
It appears that the resurrection theme of the story struck a chord with the miners. Jose Henriquez wrote a letter that said:
Thank you for this tremendous blessing for me and my coworkers. It will be good for our spiritual edification. I am fine because Christ lives in me. We have prayer services at 12 noon and 6 pm each day.
At the end of the letter Henriquez said goodbye with Psalm 95:4, “In His hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to Him.”
What a beautiful picture of resurrection this whole process has been and praise God they have been saved. Tragically, dozens of other miners have died this year alone in Chile. Workplace safety, particularly in mines, is poor at best in Chile. I have also been especially reminded through this of how churches need to see our purpose on this world differently.
Our picture of heaven is part of what needs to change. We sometimes see ourselves as becoming Christians, keeping up the deal we made with God by doing churchy things and then when we die we ‘trade up’ to this new disembodied life in the sky forever. I wish we saw heaven more like that rescue site, “Camp Hope.” I think heaven is going to look more like the desperate, joyful, reunion that was repeated 33 times this week. There were absolutely no arrogant pride from these miners when they emerged. There was no attitude of entitlement. There was joy, humility, and praise for God, which has been muted by the Western media (to their own shame). The families that were topside were absolutely elated. For two weeks in August these men had been given up for dead. Some had already had funerals and here was a very different gathering. A welcome home with family squinting with bleary eyes through the camera lights, waiting to embrace their loved ones. That is what heaven is going to be like: pure joy. Someday, Lord willing, I will embrace my four sons, my wife, brothers and sisters, parents with that kind of joy.
“There’s no atheists in foxholes“, and apparently there aren’t any in collapsed mines either.